updated 3/3/2005 8:04:24 PM ET 2005-03-04T01:04:24

A federal judge Thursday refused to take the death penalty off the table in the case against Eric Rudolph, charged in a deadly bombing at a Birmingham abortion clinic in 1998.

Rudolph’s lawyers argued that he should be tried under the 1994 Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison for abortion clinic attacks resulting in death.

But U.S. District Judge Lynwood Smith said prosecutors can try Rudolph under a federal arson law that allows capital punishment for attacks involving explosives.

Rudolph’s lawyers did not immediately return a call for comment.

The judge also delayed preliminary jury selection from March 23 until April 6 because of a scheduling conflict.

Rudolph was captured in 2003 after more than five years on the run. The clinic bombing killed a police officer and seriously wounded a nurse.

Rudolph also is charged in the bombing at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics that killed a woman and injured dozens of others, and in other attacks in Atlanta in 1997.

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